Consumer Confidential: GM roars back, jobless claims ease, Google opens its wallet
Here's your wicked Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
--Every so often, a government bailout pays off. General Motors says it earned profit of $2.16 billion in the most recent quarter as it prepares to make its shares available to the public once again and pay back Uncle Sam. Considering that taxpayers -- that's you and me -- own nearly two-thirds of the company, this is very good news indeed. If the share offering goes as planned, the government stands to earn a pretty penny for its investment in the once-troubled automaker. And who knows? Maybe the new-and-improved GM will actually remain a contender for drivers' dollars.
--Good news on the employment front: Fewer people applied for unemployment aid last week, the third drop in four weeks. If the trend continues, it could signal that businesses are finally recognizing that the recession is easing and that it's time to expand their payrolls. This latest report follows word from the Labor Department that private employers added the most jobs in six months in October. The department now says initial claims for jobless aid dropped by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 435,000. Baby steps, but at least they're going in the right direction.
--And now, heeeeere's Google! The tech heavyweight is handing 10% raises to all of its 23,000 employees as it moves to ensure that its talented workforce doesn't jump ship to the likes of Facebook or other competitors. "We want to make sure that you feel rewarded for your hard work," Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told workers. "We want to continue to attract the best people to Google." And in a surprise move, newspaper publishers told their employees that they too will receive ... um, never mind.
-- David Lazarus